Hello there! My name is Zach aka Aphelion, one of the owners and the general manager of Team Rankstar! As you may know, Team Rankstar is the official digital card game team of Inked Gaming, and I wanted to catalog some of my experiences as the helm of the organization!
A little background about TRS: we are relatively new team, just under a year old, and the initial idea was based around Wild Hearthstone, but quickly shifted to Eternal Card Game, as my interests changed. Being fairly active in the community, I was able to build a network of players and content producers interested in collaboration. Within a few months, we began expanding into other games, namely The Elder Scrolls: Legends and Hearthstone. Most of us are Magic: The Gathering players to some capacity, so we have that in common, and was a natural inclusion. Most recently, we have started to focus more on Artifact and Gwent. Being about a year in, we have experienced steady growth, and are shifting focus toward working with sponsorships and affiliates to bolster that growth. Which brings me to the focus of the entry: my experience as TwitchCon.
Working closely with Inked Gaming employee and Team Rankstar member Mitch aka Magikarp, we had discussed the pros and cons of a trip to TwitchCon. We determined it would be a great opportunity to network, as well as a fun time, so we went for it. Spending the weekend hanging out was a blast, and we got to meet lots of cool people.
Who is TwitchCon for?
Initially, despite how obvious it might seem, I was somewhat unsure of who or what to expect. Naturally I knew there would be a heavy streamer population, but I did not know how many “viewers” (what I heard non streamers referred to as once) would be present. Turns out there was a pretty healthy mix of both. The event was DEFINITELY geared toward streamers, and had many features that were only accessible to “Twitch Partners”. The exclusivity of these areas, and the “Partner Party”, made the desire to push for Partner pretty palpable among “Twitch Affiliates.” It was a mix bag of emotions among both Partners and non-partners, and felt sort of “punishing” to some to not have access to the things. However it was a very interesting and effective marketing tool to get people to want to obtain Partner status, so hats off to Twitch for that.
As a small to mid sized team owner, I did not always feel like I had much to offer the exhibitors, and my goal was not active recruiting, so I did not interact on that level with the streamers I met. Similarly, the event was heavily focused around Fortnite, with a dash of Black Ops, so as a card game team, we were not high on peoples radar. In this vein, I can see the appeal being somewhat less appealing for non-shooter or big title streamers. The MOBAs were present to a degree, as were the up and coming multiplayer survival horror games where one person tries to kill 5 people in creative ways. At night. Usually in an abandoned school, or so it would seem to be a common thread. All in all, I would say the event is great for team owners looking to explain their brand, recruit, and connect with members of the community, namely if you have a heavy Twitch presence. If you do not have many streamers, it might not be the best event to prioritize. Many of the companies present were at several other conventions, so if those are easier to get to, you could do those instead.
For the viewers, I think there is a great opportunity to connect with some of the streamers you love, and meet other fans. I saw a lot of big names in the streaming world, taking time to interact with fans, take pictures, even have the fans cameo on their streams (many streamers had backpacks with battery packs, mobile modems and a whole camera rig linked up to their stream the entire weekend). As a fan, from the fan perspective, this was pretty rad. I didn’t see Ninja walking around or anything, but I did see DisguisedToast and Pokemane several times, as well as some of my personal favorites, Gaby Spartz, Luis Scott-Vargas, Sunyveil and Brian Kibler. The convention had a lot to see, a lot to listen to in the panel area, plenty of games to play, plus the Twitch party the first night was at a huge soccer stadium, and opened to all who had a TwitchCon badge. If you are an avid member of the greater Twitch community, and can afford it, it’s certainly a trip worth taking.
Would I go again?
Probably not. I had a truly wonderful time, and despite standing in line for about 5 hours the first day, I was able to make the most of my really wonderful trip. For me personally, it wasn’t particularly beneficial to my goals as a small-mid card game team owner. I did get to meet and dine with some of my idols, connect with other members in the community, see my favorite community manager and their ever growing biceps, hang with the magik fish themself, as well as meet a member of the team who made the trip all the way from New Zealand. These experiences were invaluable, and could not be replicated.
The event had so much to offer up and coming streamers, established streamers and Fortnite fans, that if you check any of those boxes, you absolutely have to go (if you can). There are a plethora of opportunities that could be seized, plus oodles of free goodies and super sales being doled out left and right. Seeing the excitement of the people who knew what was going on was absolutely infections, and I found myself rooting for people I had no familiarity with.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and I look forward to sharing some more of my experience in the future!